A 2-week quarantine period for anyone arriving in the UK was enforced from 8th June 2020. This includes people who travel abroad on holiday or for business travel.
Upon their return to the UK people will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. When returning to the UK people should:
- Head straight home or to accommodation
- Self-isolate in one place for 14 days
- Not have any visitors to their place of isolation unless for essential support
- Not go to work, school, use taxis, or visit public areas
- Only use public transport if no other option, but if using public transport wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth and ensures they adhere to the 2-metre rule.
How will this affect employees and workplaces
All employees returning from holiday or travel abroad will be required to quarantine under the self-isolation holiday rules introduced by the Government.
Some employees may already have holidays abroad booked and if airlines allow those holidays to still take place, instead of losing their money, or moving their holiday, employees may still wish to take their holiday. Some employees however will not want to travel abroad after the recent coronavirus pandemic.
Not all employees travel abroad will be for holidays, some could be to visit a sick relative, or to attend a funeral.
If employees are planning overseas travel, employers are advised to have discussions with these employees prior to their travel, to discuss the quarantine requirements and how they will deal with self-isolation after travel. Employers need to ensure they take a consistent and fair approach when dealing with the 2-week self-isolation period.
Employers can instruct employees not to undertake any work-related travel which will eliminate the 2-weeks self-isolation period required, but employers cannot control employees travelling for personal reasons.
Employers and employees must remember that this self-isolation is a legal requirement and it is a criminal offence to fail to self-isolate.
Do employees get paid when they self-isolate for 14 days?
There is no legal requirement to pay employees during the 2-week self-isolation period following their re-entry to the UK.
Options for employers to consider include:
- Working from home if job requirements allow this or look at possible alternate work for the 2-week period to accommodate home working.
- Unpaid leave.
- Extended annual leave – although this possibly could use up an employee’s whole entitlement on one holiday.
- TOIL or agreement to make the hours up over an agreed period (if possible).
- A mixture of the options above, – allow part holiday hours to be used and part unpaid etc.
- Company Sick pay, although the wording of company sick pay schemes may not apply in these circumstances, but a company could look to making an exception to pay part or even full wages, to ensure that employees adhere to the self-isolation period and not risk infecting others in the workplace.
If an employee travels abroad for work purposes then it would be deemed reasonable for employers to pay the employee for the self-isolation period, if they could not work from home, because the travel was a requirement of their job.
Statutory Sick Pay
Currently, employees will not be entitled to statutory sick pay for the 2-week self-isolation period, unless they meet the required conditions for SSP, an example would be displaying coronavirus symptoms. This may change in the future as the enforced quarantine is due to be reviewed every 3 weeks therefore the rules around SSP could change.
Managing Annual leave requests
Employers may need to consider how they manage holiday requests from employees to allow them to accommodate the additional quarantine period. As an employee wishing to take a 2-week holiday from the workplace, will in fact potentially be absent for 4 weeks.
Employers may wish to have an amended holiday booking policy in place for the time of the quarantine period, to include the self-isolation 2-weeks. If the self-isolation period is to be used as holiday days also, then companies will need to remove any limits they have in place on how many days can be taken in one spell.
Employers may need to have separate rules for holiday requests approved before the lockdown and legal quarantine period and requests made since the new rules.
Holidays could be refused or revoked if the 2-weeks self-isolation period cannot be managed without that specific employee. However, employers need to consider things carefully before revoking a previously agreed holiday.
Employers need to ensure that they have an HR travel policy in place and they are consistent and clear to employees with approving or declining holiday requests to avoid complaints and grievances.
Health and Safety
Employers and employees both have a responsibility to look after employee’s health and safety, this includes complying with the self-isolation advice, failure to do so could result in colleagues being exposed to the infection.
Employees who are exempt from Quarantine
- Road haulage and freight workers
- Seamen and masters
- Certain oil and gas workers
- Postal workers involved in the transport of mail into and out of the UK
- Medical and care professionals providing essential healthcare
- Pre-arranged medical treatment
- Passengers in transit, if they do not pass through border control
- Seasonal agricultural workers, if they self-isolate where they work
- UK residents who normally travel overseas at least once a week for work
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